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A 5k with a mission

By Staff | Sep 18, 2012

It is a 5k race with a mission, said Glenda Swager,

event manager at Cape Harbour. The 3rd Annual GROW Africa “Run for Water” 5k will be held this Saturday, Sept. 22, at Cape Harbour, where participants can run or walk to help people in remote Africa receive their basic human right to water.

“This 5k event is a little different than your average race,” she said. “First, it’s an evening run at 6 p.m. with a start and finish at Cape Harbour, to give those late day runners an opportunity to run their favorite time.”

GROW Africa’s mission is to provide wells, vaccines and food for farming in the remote villages of Africa to meet the villagers’ most basic human needs, reducing death and disease while increasing quality and longevity of life.

The organization was founded by Cape Coral resident Kathy Hardtke in 2010. She is now the executive director of the organization.

“I founded the organization after I went to Zambia in the bush of Africa in 2007,” she said. “I was doing leadership training and church planting there, and not only did I personally experience the lack of water for two weeks, but I watched women have to walk up to four hours each way carrying three to five gallons of water on their head the whole way back. It would provide for their whole family for the day.”

She said she took an African proverb to the bush and started GROW Africa based on it.

“‘If you think you are too small to make a difference in the world, you have never been in a room with a mosquito’. I am the mosquito, doing my little part to better other’s lives,” Hardtke said.

She said the organization now has five board members, and the event gets bigger each year. “This is our big event for the year,” she said. “We also do a sunset cruise in March when it is World Water Week.”

Two key sponsors are local The Run Shoppe and Starbucks.

She personally contacted Starbucks, whose Southwest Florida stores now donate five cents for every bottle of their store Ethos Water to the cause.

“It started with the local Pine Island store,” she said. “They got excited and got their regional manager involved, and now all of Southwest Florida Starbucks are involved in some way.”

She said a number of employees will be running in their aprons, and then serving iced coffee and providing Ethos water to participants.

“The Run Shoppe on Del Prado runs our races for us,” she said. You can register on line or at the Shoppe, located at 3512 Del Prado Blvd., South.

There will be many awards, in different age groups.

The race begins at 6 p.m., with registration at 5 p.m. Pre-registration is suggested, but you can register the day of the race.

There will be an “After Race Party” at The Joint from 5 to 9 p.m. That is where the registration table will be set up. It starts at Cape Harbour, goes along El Dorado Parkway and back.

The cost is $25 for the race. Make checks payable to “GROW Africa.” For information, call 222-6882.